Clovis News: Sports

Clovis East finishes the job

Coach Tim Amundsen settled into his chair, slid down a bit, clasped his hands behind his head and, as if without a worry in the world, unleashed a blur of blues on top-seeded Buchanan on Saturday night at Selland Arena.

With a crowd of about 7,000 there to see a defense that has no peer in the Central Section, No. 2 Clovis East slashed and dashed for every Bears pass, pounded the offensive glass, won most loose balls, flourished behind Robert Sandoval's floor management and defeated Buchanan 71-52 for the Division I boys title.

Kevin Bailey and Antwoun Whitfield each scored 17 points and Sandoval and Saig Horn, on his 18th birthday, each added 15 as the Timberwolves (25-7) captured their third crown in four years.

This was a vintage performance before a throng that exceeded the four previous big ones that arrived for the main event -- boys D-I.

Housing all 10 boys and girls section finals at Selland, beginning in 2006, has been a rousing success, helped in large part by exclusive North Area boys D-I showdowns -- Clovis West over Edison in 2006, Clovis East over CW in '07 and '08, and Edison over Central at the buzzer last year.

This one -- pumping the two-day attendance total to a five-year record of 10,800 -- matched teams that had split in the Tri-River Athletic Conference while sharing the crown with Central and, for Buchanan (23-7), it was its first championship appearance in the 18-year history of the program.

It was the Bears, then as No. 8 seeds, who shocked then-No. 1 Clovis East 70-69 in last year's quarterfinals. And it was the Timberwolves who arrived at Selland on Saturday with memories and an edge.

They forced turnovers on Buchanan's first three possessions and nine in all in the first quarter, converting them into 11 points for an 18-6 lead.

It was 34-24 Clovis East at halftime -- amazing in that the Bears had shot 62.5% (10 of 16) from the floor. But they had taken eight fewer attempts because of the turnovers.

A Robbie Nobles layup off a nice Travis Cooper feed gave the Timberwolves a 37-24 lead with 11/2 minutes into the third quarter.

Then something happened common to basketball -- the rallying power of the 3-point shot.

Jackson Carbajal hit two consecutively within 30 seconds, stoking a 10-0 Buchanan run that reduced the gap to 37-34 with 4:14 left in the third and giving life.

Further, the Bears extended the momentum through the end of the quarter, trailing 46-43 entering the fourth.

But the promise would be brief.

Clovis East opened the final period with an 8-0 run and, fittingly, it was Timberwolves tenacity that triggered it.

An offensive rebound by Cooper kept alive a possession, and yet another by Sandoval led to his own bucket. Horn had a layup and two free throws in the run, making it 54-43 with 6:11 to go.

If Buchanan wasn't toast at that point, the butter absolutely melted soon after when Cooper -- the section's finest sixth man -- snatched offensive rebounds that led to 3-pointers by Sandoval and Whitfield for a 60-46 lead.

Clovis East, likely at home, and Buchanan, surely on the road, will play in the Southern California Regional on Tuesday.

The seeds and sites will be determined this morning at the state CIF office in Los Alamitos.